KOTA KINABALU: Nobody thought DAP would win the rural seat of Tenom in 2018 but it did, and the eventual winner, Noorita Sual, openly admitted it was partly thanks to then Warisan leader Peter Anthony’s effort.
“My focus was mostly in the Kemabong state constituency among the villagers while Peter worked among his constituents in Melalap. I let him do his work there because I knew he had served the area well.
“So, it is fair to say that we won the Tenom seat together,” she told FMT.
Kemabong and Melalap are the two state seats in Tenom.
However, after Warisan announced its breakup with Pakatan Harapan in 2021, and Peter formed his own party, Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM), earlier this year, Noorita said her team has increased its activities in Melalap as well.
“Not that we had neglected Melalap and relied only on Peter all these years, but such was the understanding then,” she said.
Commenting on Peter’s rejected nomination papers, Noorita said she knew nothing about it and denied any involvement.
“I did not see anyone raising any objection in the nomination hall. Up until the close of nomination at 10am, everything was in order. Then suddenly, we heard there was something not right with Peter’s papers. I was as confused as everybody else,” she said.
As for independent candidate Riduan Rubin’s decision to join KDM, Noorita said she was not surprised, especially because KDM is a GRS-friendly party.
“Riduan is the son of Rubin Balang, the Tenom Bersatu chief. I knew it was going to happen, so I wasn’t surprised. It doesn’t affect my campaign at all,” she said.
Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Jamawi Jaafar was not so dismissive about Riduan’s action.
The former Melalap assemblyman said it was unfair to BN that Riduan was allowed to run in the seat allotted to BN as both GRS and BN already have an electoral pact.
“Rubin openly marched with his son during nomination day. It confused the entire GRS-BN supporters.
“Not only that, Rubin, who is also the GRS coordinator for Tenom, used the whole might of the government through the Community Development Leader Unit (UPPM) to help his son’s campaign efforts,” he said.
Jamawi said he remained confident about his chances of wresting the seat from DAP, having met all of the GRS component parties.
“All of them voiced their support for me, and I am grateful that these leaders respected the electoral pact between BN and GRS. In Tenom, the people want the representative they know.
“And they have always known me because I have served the people here for a long time, from when I was the agriculture officer here,” he said.
Riduan, 35, however, felt the contest was only between him and Noorita, with Jamawi trailing behind them.
“Wherever I go, the reception has been great. It is only between me and PH now. The rest are behind,” he said.
He also said the decision to stand as an independent was solely his.
“My father only came to give me moral support. He didn’t endorse me as a GRS candidate or anything like that. It is also not true that he helped me in my campaign,” he said.
He said he had made up his mind about running in the election for some time and sent his resignation as the Tenom Bersatu Youth chief to the Tenom Bersatu division secretary before he submitted his nomination papers.
On his support for KDM, he said: “I like the leadership of the president. I like that he always supports youth activities. And it is a local party, which is in line with the sentiment of the people.”
He said said he did not expect any posts in PKDM and did not place any conditions before agreeing to join the party.
“I want to be in a local party that is free from West Malaysian influence. I want to be a leader who is free to speak and conduct activities without being forced to support things I do not agree with,” he said.